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Michele Morris Learns What it Takes to be an Effective Leader

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Michele Morris is a seasoned professional but relatively new at leadership.

As the director of outreach and communications at Chittenden Solid Waste District, Morris supervises five employees at the district’s administrative office in Williston.

Morris, who previously worked for the National Wildlife Federation and Backpacker Magazine (under Rodale Press), joined the waste district nine years ago. She was promoted to her current supervisory position two years ago and was tasked with overseeing four outreach coordinators as well as the district’s marketing and communications manager.

“It was my first time supervising people on that scale. At that time, there was also a lot of change happening in the organization, including the hiring of our new executive director, Sarah Reeves,” Morris says. “Sarah was looking at opportunities to cultivate people’s skills and increase efficiencies and synergies.”

Morris decided to enroll in the UVM Leadership and Management Professional Certificate Program, which offers eight, one-day seminars addressing everything from emotional intelligence to conflict and negotiation to financial analysis for strategic decision-making.

“The program definitely helped me take a 30,000-foot view and see how different disciplines could be integrated within our organization,” she says. “The marketing information I learned was instantly applicable. Also, learning more about budgeting and financials meant that I could be an active participant in those types of conversations rather than just a bystander trying to get up to speed.”

For Morris, the program gave her confidence that she’s on the right track in her career.

“This program,” she says, “helped me identify new ways to apply the knowledge and skills I’ve gained in my varied work experiences.”

Morris believes an effective leader is someone who has a strong ability to see the bigger picture. They understand how all the different parts of an organization can work together, and identify things that perhaps aren’t working as effectively. A leader also knows how to identify opportunities and steer an organization’s direction into the future, she says.

“Good leaders and managers appreciate and understand how to work with people. They know how to motivate, they lead by example, and identify strengths in a team,” she says. “A good leader is going to help employees navigate different challenges and grow.”

Learn about the UVM Leadership and Management Professional Certificate Program. The program consists of eight individual leadership seminars that focus on developing leadership capabilities and skills in the context of today’s business and management challenges. The seminars are taught by industry experts and held in Burlington, VT. Registration is now open.